Sunday’s planned St Patrick’s Day parade through Central London has been cancelled due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, it was announced this morning.
In a statement, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who took the decision, said he did so because “key performers and parade participants are no longer able to take part” due to the “ongoing threat” of the virus COVID-19, leaving him with no choice but to call the event off.
The annual event, which was expected to attract at least 50,000 people to the parade and Trafalgar Square, has been a major a celebration of Irish culture and Irish people in London since 2002 and a draw for visitors from across the UK and beyond.
The Trafalgar Square entertainment, organised in partnership with the London Irish Centre, was to have been compered by Derry Girls actor Siobhan McSweeney. The parade would have featured marching bands from the Uk, the United States and Ireland as well as dance troupes and the Garda band from Dublin. The last census found that there are around 175,000 people in London who define themselves as Irish, accounting for roughly one third of the Irish population of the UK.
The Irish government has announced that schools, colleges and other public institutions will be closed from 29 March and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said that all planned gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor ones of more than 500 should be cancelled.
It emerged yesterday that the Electoral Commission has recommended that the government postpones the elections for London Mayor and the London Assembly scheduled on 7 May, along with other elections in the UK on the same day, because of the risks to election process posed by coronavirus.
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